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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Notes On Confirmation Hearings For John Roberts

When the senators start using their time to explain how valuable and educational this whole exercise is, it's time for them to consider shutting this thing down. (Update - see The Anchoress' post about her aunt's impressions.)

The usual suspects have made fools of themselves Biden orating, firing questions, and then complaining because Roberts was using too much of his (Biden's) precious time by answering them. Feinstein imploring for an indication of Roberts' "feelings as a man". Cue swell of music. Beldar, by the way, takes a well-deserved roundswing at Feingold. The Republicans are being less antagonistic but in most cases not very substantive either. What a stunner! Roberts says it's appropriate for Congress to determine what the meaning of "public use" is. Of course, that is exactly what the majority of the Supreme Court wrote in the Kelo opinion. That's front page news?

However, I do agree that the average citizen needs an education on the US government. So I will assist in this effort. Our entire government is founded on the Constitution. The Constitution apportions powers to the states, Congress, and the President. The Constitution also prohibits certain actions and marks off limits to the government's powers. There's a cute little link on the sidebar to the Constitution, and it is a snappy, peppy, no-nonsense yet understandable document. Everyone ought to read it.

Congress makes new laws, the President executes them and an independent federal Judiciary resolves conflicts between law and the Constitution and interpretations of the laws as they arise. Anything the sobbing senators are saying the Supreme Court should do, Congress can generally accomplish on its own, or the states can.

At least Leahy was asking about whether Congress could, under the Constitution, stop a war by passing a resolution to that effect. That is a genuine constitutional question. Getting all throbby voiced about your parent's terrible suffering when dying from cancer is irrelevant. The fact that all 50 states have passed laws designed to facilitate individuals refusing medical treatment also makes the whole line of questioning irrelevant. Why not ask Roberts if he wants to starve the little poor children by not providing them adequate school lunches? Sniff, sniff. Don't the little children have a privacy right to life? Ooops, strike that question.

I believe I have reached an end to my patience for heartfelt, throbbing voices discussing matters that are beyond the reach of the US Constitution but well within the reach of legislative powers. If this is an example of Democratic constitutional thinking, I hope the Democrats never regain power. Furthermore, if the theme song for the 2008 Democratic Convention isn't "Feelings, nothing more than ... feelings" they are hypocrites as well as constitutional illiterates. I'm sure it will go over well with our enemies. Sniff. Sniff.

Richard Cohen has already gotten upset over Roberts' "perfection" and mourns that Roberts is not and has never been a politician.
I flunked out of college. I did so for the usual reasons -- painfully bored with school and distracted by life itself -- and so I went to work for an insurance company while I plowed ahead at night school. From there I went into the Army, emerging with a storehouse of anecdotes. In retrospect, I learned more by failing than I ever would have by succeeding. I wish that John Roberts had a touch of my incompetence.
I don't. I'm also pleased that Roberts appears to have a better grasp of logic. I suspect the problem for Cohen wasn't boredom but the failure to actually study. Cohen continues:
If he has a politician's talent -- not weakness -- for compromise, we don't know it. If he has great leadership qualities -- or any at all -- we don't know it. ...

But it is not only the lack of political experience that I rue today, it is also the lack of life experiences that makes me wonder. Just before writing this column, I came across an obituary for Theodore Sarbin, a social psychologist who died Aug. 31 at the nice age of 94. Sarbin's claim to newspaper space was his 1988 report recommending that the military stop discriminating against gays and lesbians. This is the sentence that caught my attention: "As a young man, he rode the rails as a hobo, an experience he would later say helped him identify with people on the margins of society." The best Roberts could do in this respect was to work summers in a steel mill. He shared the work -- but not the plight.
It was at this point that I realized that the clot of bleating Washington/NY/LA pundits has destroyed the national Democratic party. Those were great jobs, dimwit. Those are the jobs mourned by the traditional Democratic constitutuency. I am not surprised you flunked out of school, you fool. The tragedy for the American working class is that those jobs, with their high pay, medical benefits and pensions, went away. Steelworkers were not people "on the margins of society".

You, you twit, are a person on the margin of sane society. What in the name of all sense are you suggesting? You want all judges to have been hobos or have flunked out of college? As for the "plight", dear Richard, the people who shared the "plight" are people like Condoleeza Rice and Clarence Thomas on the other side of the political divide! Do you have any clue as to why and how that might have happened? Read your own columns. Your inferiority complex and delusions of relevance are showing.

As for leadership, I do believe that Roberts is demonstrating it now by restraining what must be his natural inclination to point out that too many of the senators appear to be senile, ignorant, or have mistaken these confirmation hearings for a group therapy session. I would probably be rising from the table to offer a hanky to the poor, dear, sobbing senators.

In the meantime, a federal judge ruled the Pledge of Allegiance can't be recited in public schools because of the words "under God". The Supreme Court ducked the last Newdow case on the grounds that he didn't have standing to sue. This should be interesting.

oh, com'on. Like the Repubs are doing any better. Lets use our 20 minutes of question time to tout our spunky new bills we want to pass on detainees and generally just ramble on about mish-mash.

If it was a Democrat nominee, it would be the Repubs trying to be tough. I listened to the Ginsberg hearings also. It was not pretty for the GOP.
BTW, I will conceed that Shumer is an idiot.
I think Richard Cohen is flat wrong because he fail to appreciate the position of John Roberts. If Roberts is a nominee for a position of policy making (whether legislative or executive), an interesting experience and background is important (infact very important). But for a Supreme Court nominee, the power of logical thinking is the only thing that matters.

Judicial branch is the only branch of government where the impact of policy is irrelevant, and the logical meaning of words are far more important. This is because the judicial branch is a branch of limited function. We would like our politicians to think outside the box, but we want our judges to think inside the box, limited by the contextual meaning of words.
I love Richard Cohen's argument that people who had focus and discipline at an age when he did not are somehow at a disadvantage when compared to him now.

Somehow he resents those that were smart enough to figure out that failure was going to be unpleasant without having to experience it first.
Tommy - Cohen's lack of logic shows. He may not realize it, but no one who achieves a lot does so without encountering many failures. It's just that Roberts corrected his more quickly than he did.

Minh-Duc - that is superbly said. It in our system of government it is not a Supreme Court Justice's feelings that count, but the quality of his thinking. The senators can, if they choose to, ask about how he would approach deciding cases. Wasting the time on ranting is ridiculous.

Dingo - I didn't confine my remarks about behavior to the Dems. A lot of them from both parties are coming off pretty poorly.

What has me irked about the Dems is that they seem to be pushing the idea that the court should constitute some sort of dictatorship of conscience. This is an absolute constitutional, logical and historical fallacy.

None of the moral utopias have ever lasted, and a moral utopia governed by lawyers would fare no better. This is dangerous. Read DU and you will see that a lot of people buy it.
Cohen is an idiot on this matter. Period.

Your post is most succinct. "...The average citizen needs an education on the US government. So I will assist in this effort. Our entire government is founded on the Constitution. The Constitution apportions powers to the states, Congress, and the President. The Constitution also prohibits certain actions and marks off limits to the government's powers. There's a cute little link on the sidebar to the Constitution, and it is a snappy, peppy, no-nonsense yet understandable document. Everyone ought to read it."

No truer words have ever been spoken.

How people can opine on matters of such relevance without even a basic understanding of how the systems work.

The process is supposed to be a process f inquiry, to benefit the nation. Instead, it has become a forum for political grandstanding and free TV exposure.

Many, on both sides, are full of crap.
Yes, the grandstanding is unmistakeable and not confined to one side or another. They are campaigning as much as conducting a hearing.

We have such a short, elegant and powerful Constitution! Why won't people read it? My parents made us read the Federalist Papers when we were in high school.

What really irks me about the Dems who are crying and moaning while they are on the stage and talking about feelings is that they assume that their constituents have no intelligence at all. That has not historically been true of the Democratic party, but if they keep this up it will be true.
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